Recently a Production Supervisor asked me: “How do I keep my employees engaged in environmental, health & safety (EHS)?” This particular question was related to properly managing hazardous waste, but this is a common question among managers responsible for EHS programs. I have found the following four tips helpful in maintaining employee engagement:
- Explain the why. It is extremely important to inform employees, not only of their roles in the environmental, health & safety programs but also the reasons behind the implemented processes. There are a number of ways to accomplish this outside of a typical job description; which is usually insufficient as many EHS functions cross a number of different jobs. One of the most effective is conducting an annual EHS refresher training in which relevant EHS goals are discussed. This provides an opportunity for employees to understand that compliance with governing regulations is not the sole motive behind processes and procedures, but rather creating a sustainable business with a culture of continual improvement.
- Include collaboration. In implementing different EHS programs, I find it instrumental to discuss the approach with employees across the organization. Effective collaboration reduces time and effort expended on processes that are prohibitive or impractical for the employees that utilize them. This also is an effective method for obtaining “buy-in” before process implementation and facilitates a smooth transition.
- Have fun. While EHS is not the most humorous of subjects, keeping trainings fun and lighthearted is a great way to facilitate employee engagement. Incorporating funny stories, sharing comics or including a game or video in training are all effective ways to keep employees interested. I recently included a game of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” to test employees’ knowledge on the contents of the training. I have also been a part of a class that used team “Jeopardy” as a way to incorporate competition to improve engagement.
- Communicate responsibility and maintain accountability. A lighthearted environment makes it much easier to hold employees accountable for their roles and responsibilities. While employees may understand the why of the processes, they must also understand the how—how to implement the processes for which they are responsible. I often accomplish this through ensuring that all EHS program requirements are documented in the company’s document management system.
Do you have tips for keeping employees engaged? Engage in the discussion, share a comment below.